AUGUSTA – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine issued a statement today calling Verso’s announcement that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy status a positive move if it allows the company to continue operations and emerge stronger from the process.
Verso Corporation announced on January 26 that the company and its subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The company stated Verso’s board of directors authorized the filing of the Chapter 11 cases to facilitate a debt restructuring necessary to strengthen the company’s balance sheet and position Verso for long-term success, and said this Chapter 11 petition filing will have virtually no impact on the day-to-day operations of the company.
“While bankruptcy is not a word you like to hear in connection with a company as important to the Maine forest products economy as Verso, Maine loggers are encouraged that the company will continue to operate its remaining Maine mill as it seeks to restructure its finances,” PLC Executive Director Dana Doran, said. “Verso is a valued partner for Maine loggers and we are hopeful that this process ends with a stronger company and our partnership can continue to grow.”
Verso operates a mill in Jay, Maine that buys wood fiber from Maine loggers for coated paper production. The mill has reduced operations in the past year but remains vital to the Maine logging industry, which has suffered with the loss of a number of paper mills in recent years, including Verso’s Bucksport mill which was shut down in 2014.
Maine loggers are being hit by a perfect storm of challenges right now: Fewer active pulp and paper mills and mills idling paper machines due to lowered demand for many paper products is reducing demand for wood fiber from Maine loggers. Low natural gas prices are cutting deeply into demand for biomass and resulting in biomass plant closures. Costs of operating a modern logging business are rising. Qualified workers are in short supply. Changes in land ownership and legislation are creating uncertainty in the logging market.
The PLC will continue working with its partners in the pulp and paper industry and with lawmakers to seek solutions to the challenges facing the industry and Maine loggers.
Maine’s loggers are a vital part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $8 billion annually.
The PLC of Maine was formed in 1995 to give independent logging contractors and sole proprietors a voice in a rapidly changing forest industry. A Board of Directors made up entirely of loggers makes the PLC the only logging organization in Maine run by loggers for loggers. The mission of the PLC is to promote logging as a profession, advocate for logging professionals, cultivate responsible forest management, and sustain a strong forest products industry. PLC members are responsible for 75 percent of the timber that is harvested from Maine’s forests annually.
Learn more about the PLC at www.maineloggers.com.